A South African big game hunter was killed in Zimbabwe on Friday when an elephant that had been shot by another hunter fell on him.
The hunter, Theunis Botha, 51, from South Africa, had been leading paying tourists on hunting trips for over three decades.
He was guiding a group of hunters on Friday near a village called Gwai in western Zimbabwe, according to the Afrikaans media outlet Netwerk24, when he came across a herd of elephants. Some of them charged, and Mr. Botha fired toward them with his gun. But one elephant got close enough to lift Mr. Botha with its trunk.
Another member of the group then shot the elephant, killing it. It crushed Mr. Botha as it fell to the ground, Simukai Nyasha, a national park spokesman, told The Telegraph. Mr. Nyasha did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Monday.
Elephant hunting with a license is not illegal in Zimbabwe, but Mr. Botha’s death has sparked outcry from critics of the practice, who say big game hunting is immoral.
C.J. Prinsloo, a big game hunter based in South Africa who was a friend of Mr. Botha, said he had posted on Facebook to memorialize his friend but deleted the post after it was inundated with negative comments. “People have been saying it’s a good thing that he died, and it makes me so angry,” he said in a phone interview, adding that Mr. Botha is survived by his wife and five children.
Mr. Prinsloo said that anytime an elephant is killed by legal hunters, its meat feeds people in nearby communities. Other defenders of big game hunting say it boosts tourism revenue in developing countries and can even help conservation efforts by effectively raising the value of wildlife in a way that discourages poaching.
Opponents object to the killing of wild animals, including some species that are in danger of extinction. The World Wildlife Fund lists African elephants as “vulnerable,” noting that 415,000 are now living in the wild, down from three million to five million a century ago.
According to his website, Mr. Botha offered safaris in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. He specialized in using hounds to hunt down leopards and lions, though dozens of other animals are also listed on the site, including baboons, jackals, hyenas and warthogs.
Mr. Botha’s is the second death of a big game hunter in two months. Another South African, Scott Van Zyl, disappeared in April; his remains were later found inside of a crocodile, The BBC reported.